Antigua: Galleon Beach Adventures

After the long day in Barbuda yesterday, we spent plenty of time relaxing on the balcony and drinking coffee this morning.

A warm sunny morning on the balcony.
Our balcony has a tree full of birds next to it.
We were wishing we had a bird book to help identify our guests.

Beach time! Nearby Galleon Beach is calling us! Located on Antigua’s southern coast in English Harbor, Galleon Beach is relatively well protected from rough seas. It is named after the ships that used to moor here – evident by the huge rusting anchor that lies in the shallows in the middle of the beach.

Rusty anchor … a landmark on Galleon beach.

The soft sands of Galleon Beach slip into warm blue waters well-known locally for snorkeling. The security guard gave us a few tips on where to snorkel and also mentioned that turtles regularly come toward shore in the morning.

Before settling on the beach, we did a little beach shopping. A local entrepreneur offered an assortment of handmade necklaces and bracelets made from tamarind seeds and colorfully painted lavender pods in addition to t-shirts and scarves.

Beach shopping for unique necklaces and bracelets.
Galleon is a peaceful and relaxing beach.

Late afternoon we heard what sounded like cannons. One of the rowboats from the Talisker Whisky Trans-Atlantic Rowboat Competition has finished and is heading for Nelson’s Dockyard. The yachts started blowing horns and everyone on the beach started hootin’ and hollering.

Watching the Trans-Atlantic rowboat enter English Harbor.
The row team light flares and the cheering increases.

Participants in this competition, leave the Canary Islands (south of Spain, west of Africa) in early December. It takes between 30-95 days to reach Antigua which means they are spending their Christmas and New Years holidays at sea.

The row teams vary and have 1, 2, 3 or 4 participants. In their 3000 nautical mile trek across the Atlantic, they experience sleep deprivation, hallucinations and hunger. This test of body and mind is balanced by sighting incredible marine life, witnessing the breaking of a new day and sun sets that cannot be viewed from land.

This is what a 4-person team rowboat looks like. (Photo and Information taken from Atlantic and Talisker Whisky Atlantic
Applause and cheers came from a line of people waiting for a water taxi and everyone else sitting on the beach.

We were motivated to move on to Nelson’s Dockyard which was on our list anyway but thought it might be fun to see the rowboat finishers.

Nelson’s Dockyard is just around the bend from Galleon Beach. (Photo from

Nelson’s Dockyard is a cultural heritage site and marina which became a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2016. In the 1600’s it was established as a way to protect British ships from hurricanes and to monitor naval activity at the neighboring French island of Guadeloupe.

The Dockyard has been restored to its original state featuring 18th and 19th century buildings with modern amenities such as shops, hotels, and marina businesses. (Information from

It may have been faster for us to swim to Nelson’s Dockyard. By the time we got the car and drove there, all the Trans-Atlantic rowboat hoopla had moved on.

The walkway into Nelson’s Dockyard has a wall decorated with Conch shells — one of my favorites.
Some of the historic buildings are now filled with souvenir shops.
This old tree had a trunk that was about 6-7 ft in diameter.

After wandering around the dockyard, we returned to our apartment. The sunset is blocked by the hillside but still pretty to watch its hues color the clouds. We walked across the street to the Antigua Yacht Club’s restaurant for dinner and ended the evening there.

Pink clouds hovering over the hillside at Falmouth Harbor at sunset.

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Jane is a resident of Browndale neighborhood in St. Louis Park, Minnesota.

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